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Anticipating Easter

Easter is less than three weeks away. Many traditional churchgoers anticipate Easter by fasting and focusing on personal repentance during Lent during the forty days leading up to Easter. The tradition is based on the forty days of fasting Jesus spent in the wilderness at the outset of his ministry, immediately after being baptized.

Easter is the dramatic historical high point of the entire Bible, matched in drama only by the amazing and mysterious prophetic revelations in the Book of Revelation about End Times events still to come. Easter originated during Passover, the spring festival in the Biblical calendar celebrating Israel’s Exodus from slavery in Egypt. The angel of death “passed over” every household that followed God’s instructions to smear the blood of an unblemished lamb on the doorframe of their dwelling as a sign of their trust in God.

Jesus was born to reveal the Kingdom of God, connect us to the Father and secure redemption from sin by His sacrificial death on the Cross. Scripture makes clear that the Lord was with God at the very beginning of Creation, when God, Himself, anticipated the day when humanity would be set free from slavery to sin. Even the rabbis of Israel foresaw something like this. Their ancient compilation of wisdom writings, the

Talmud says: “The Holy one, blessed be He, pre­pares the remedy before the wound.” In other words, God foresaw the Fall of the first Adam and prepared from the Beginning to send a manifestation of Himself as the second Adam to “remedy the wound.”

Before Easter arrived, Jesus began speaking cryptically about His coming suffering and death. For example, Matthew 16:21–28 reports that on a number of occasions Jesus “began to show his disciples that he must go to Jerusalem and suffer many things from the elders and chief priests and scribes, and be killed.”
 
Knowing the suffering that lay ahead of Him had to be the heaviest of burdens, as witnessed by the fact that Jesus sweat blood in the Garden of Gethsemane the night before His crucifixion. Jesus anticipated that moment by preparing Himself to face it resolutely.

Luke 9:51–56 says:”When the days drew near for him to be received up, he set his face to go to Jerusalem.” This verse quotes Isaiah 50:7,

“Because the Sovereign LORD helps me, I will not be disgraced. Therefore have I set my face like flint, and I know I will not be put to shame.”

Jesus knew for certain the Sovereign Lord would help Him through His trial. Therefore “he set his face to go” to Jerusalem. He strengthened His resolve for what lay ahead.

Have you ever had to strengthen your resolve to do God’s will in the face of difficult circumstances? Strength to do so comes from the joy of knowing for certain God has got us all in His hand. “In this world you will have tribulation,” said Jesus, but be of good cheer for I have overcome.”

John 16:33

This is the reward that Jesus gained for us on the Cross. For the joy set before us, we can face any and every kind of tribulation, just as our Lord set His face for what lay ahead of Him. Do you believe it?